WJC welcomes FIFA decision to drop Palestinian push against Israeli soccer teams

October 28, 2017 Agencies
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The World Jewish Congress has welcomed the decision by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) Council to decline the Palestinian Football Association’s long-standing push for punitive measures against the Israeli Football Association on the grounds that it is a complex political dispute unrelated to football.
The WJC’s efforts on the matter spanned several diplomatic spheres. WJC President Ronald S. Lauder met with the chairman of the FIFA Israel-Palestine Monitoring Committee, Tokyo Sexwale, to pressure him to drop the Palestinian bid, and the two spoke a number of times subsequently in follow-up. Lauder and Sexwale agreed that FIFA should serve as an instrument for bringing nations together. Sexwale also expressed last week at the WJC National Community Directors Forum in Cape Town his wishes of a peaceful solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

WJC CEO and Executive Singer Robert Singer called FIFA’s ruling “a significant precedent which sends a strong message that international organizations should be used to build bridges, not to create divides. There is no place in sports for cynical political campaigns or unwarranted bias.”

“The World Jewish Congress and its member communities have worked intensely over the last months to urge FIFA and its Council members to avoid this association being used as a tool in the political campaign of the Palestinian Football Association to encourage incitement against Israel, and to remain neutral on political matters.

“We sincerely thank our communities and the many other partners working to support Israel in this critical issue. We hope that this puts an end to the PFA’s misguided actions, and that other international organizations will follow FIFA’s lead,” Singer said.

WJC and its affiliated communities executed a comprehensive campaign to actively appeal to FIFA and its National Council representatives to block the move in recent months, through widespread diplomatic efforts.

WJC member communities in dozens of countries reached out to their national football associations, seeking a consensus on the issue ahead of the FIFA Council meeting in Kolkata. The WJC Jewish Diplomatic Corps supported the wide-ranging campaign by petitioning FIFA Council representatives, engaging in opinion-making in international media, and launching a social media campaign that reached millions online.

The WJC also reiterates its support for organizing a friendly football match between Israel and the Palestinians, under FIFA’s auspices, to encourage dialogue and cooperation, in accordance with the fundamental values of the association.

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